STAR OF THE WEEK:
It was an amazingly productive week for the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Joel Embiid once again proved that health is the only true adversary capable of stopping the center, as he grabbed this week’s star. The big man averaged 26.7 points, 15.0 boards and 2.3 blocks leading Philly to a 3 – 0 week.
Embiid’s week of dominance began with a 27-point, 13-rebound output in a 115 – 102 home win against the Washington Wizards. Three nights later the newly crowned All-Star grabbed 16-rebounds (tying his career high) and dropped 24-points in a 100 – 82 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans. Next up were the Los Angeles Clippers and high scoring guard Lou Williams. The 76ers again received a strong rebounding effort from “the Process”, who snatched 16-rebounds and scored 29-points in a 112 – 98 W.
All three of Philly’s wins were by 10 or more points, and it was the fourth time this season the 76ers have won three or more consecutive games. The young group also managed for just the second time this year to win three straight against teams with a winning record. One cannot overlook the presence and attendance of Embiid.
Two more games remain before the All-Star break, a home contest against the reeling 23 – 33 New York Knicks. New York is 2 – 8 in their last 10 games and are a far cry from the playoff contending team we witnessed early in the season. Finishing up the pre-break schedule is the Miami Heat, who have gone 3 – 7 in their last 10.
Playoff positioning and conference wins are paramount as the second half of the season commences. The Heat sit just two games ahead of Philly and will be looking to hold off the young guns.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The week of blowouts began with a shellacking of the Washington Wizards and carried all the way through the seven day period. This week’s numbers reflect just how dominant Philly was against three playoff contenders. The 76ers were 2nd in rebounding with 49.3, 2nd in assists (28.3), 3rd in three-point field goal percentage (43.2) 4th in made threes (13.7), 7th in made field goals (42.3), and 9th in field goal percentage at 47.9. A week of futility was all Philadelphia needed to return to their core staples of rebounding and ball movement.
Defensively the group went from 5th in defensive rating to 2nd, dropping from 103.5 to 91.8. The Sixers snatched 10.3 steals per, good for 3rd in the league. Overall Philly was 2nd in opponent field goal percentage at 40.6 percent, 2nd in opponent points per game at 94.0, 3rd in opponent three-point percentage (25.6), 5th in opponent fastbreak points (8.3), and 6th in opponent made field goals (37.3). Philly’s defensive effort was spirited all week and the hope is their focus will carryover after the break.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY
Josh Jackson of the Phoenix Suns was the week’s best rookie. The 4th overall pick in last year’s draft has come on strong of late. Jackson’s biggest scoring output came in a 115 – 110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The rookie scored nine of the Suns’ 16 fourth quarter points, and a game high 23-points in the loss. For the week Jackson averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL - A.I.'S ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. So while we partake in the now, it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
A Winning Pair
The wins were few and far between in A.I.’s rookie year, but when the victories did arrive they came in pairs. Before the Sixers’ embarked on back-to-back wins they first had to endure a scorching by the Miami Heat. Led by Tim Hardaway and his 29-points, the Heat obliterated the 76ers 111 – 83. The 76ers’ rookie continued to struggle against the Pat Riley coached club continued, shooting 2-for-13 and finishing the evening with 10-points. Miami proved to be Iverson’s toughest challenge holding the guard to 10.3 points per contest on 16-percent shooting.
No. 3’s inaugural year was a smorgasbord of peaks and valleys. After opening the three game span with a steep valley, the dynamic guard responded with back-to-back victories. Philly’s newest star scored a game high 24-points and handed out a game high 13-assists in a 101 – 84 drubbing of the Los Angeles Clippers. Allen dropped his second straight double-double (18-points, 12-rebounds) in a 97 – 80 win against Rasheed Wallace and the Portland Trail Blazers. Electricity was beginning to permeate throughout the city and Iverson was the sole reason why.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: